While the NFL draft is over, it doesn’t mean that the Dallas Cowboys are finished adding to their roster. There are still numerous things that need to be done or figured out before the team gets to training camp in late July.
Dallas added a lot of talent to the roster during the draft, but there are still holes that need to be filled and extensions that need to be signed.
Here is the Cowboys’ post-draft priority list for the rest of the offseason.
Signing Zack Martin to an Extension
While Zack Martin is under the Cowboys’ control for the next two seasons, the team would like to get the 26-year-old All-Pro guard signed to a long-term extension.
Martin is scheduled to make only $2.8 million in 2017, but his cap number rises in 2018 to $9.3 million because of the fifth-year option, according to OverTheCap.com.
The Cowboys could choose to ignore Martin’s contract for another year, but Dallas typically likes to take care of their young studs by signing them early, lowering their cap hits each year.
Martin finished third among all guards in both the NFL1000 and for Pro Football Focus in 2016. Martin is one of the top-5 players on the Cowboys’ roster, and it’s vital that they get him locked up soon before his price tag rises any further.
Find out How Healthy Jaylon Smith Is
While the Cowboys’ defense finished fifth in the NFL in points allowed in 2016, they were hardly a dominant unit. A big reason for their success was the team’s ball control offense that sped up games and drained the clock. Dallas’ defense was tied for 19th in turnovers, with only 20 takeaways all season. Dallas only forced nine interceptions throughout the entire season.
But one of the reasons there is a lot of optimism surrounding the Cowboys’ defense in 2017 is Jaylon Smith. The Cowboys took the talented linebacker with the 34th overall pick in the 2016 draft, knowing that he wouldn’t play a snap during his rookie year.
And until March, there wasn’t much news as to how Smith was recovering. However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that the Cowboys “are no longer waiting for Smith’s knee to fire.” Rapoport also hinted Smith would need to wear an AFO brace to play.
However, that thought changed when executive vice president Stephen Jones announced before the draft that Smith has begun to regenerate feeling in his foot and can lift his toes. Smith’s outlook seems to be brighter each day, and he will even take part in rookie mini-camp later this month, according to head coach Jason Garrett (h/t Clarence Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram)
Smith’s health will be a major question heading into training camp and into the season. If Smith can get to 100 percent or close to it, the Cowboys will have drastically improved, as he was one of the top five players in the 2016 draft before the injury. If Smith can’t get to that level, or if he’s forced to play with the AFO brace, it may limit his effectiveness in 2017 and expectations should be drastically decreased.
The reports have been nothing but positive in the past few weeks, and the Cowboys hope that trend continues going forward.
Find Another Backup Quarterback
Not only did the Cowboys lose Tony Romo this offseason, they also lost Mark Sanchez. While that might not seem like a big loss, it does leave the cupboard bare at the position. Kellen Moore is currently the Cowboys’ backup quarterback, and he’s the only…